Putting The Streak On The Line

Congratulations to Ohio State’s players and coaches for the 76-0 walloping administered to Florida A&M. I stated before the game that this was the type of game that Ohio State should not schedule, and 76-0 is pretty clear evidence of that argument. Moving forward into the playoff system, this is the kind of game that will only hurt Ohio State’s playoff chances.

On to B1G conference play and the Wisconsin Badgers.  Wisconsin began conference play last week versus Purdue, and enter into Ohio Stadium confidently after a strong 41-10 victory over the Boilermakers.

Wisconsin will also enter into Ohio Stadium with a sizable number of its roster, specifically fourteen players, who may feel a little extra motivation versus the Buckeyes.  Fourteen Ohioans on Wisconsin’s roster, with only one of them, senior DE Pat Muldoon, who earned a scholarship offer by Ohio State.  The most notable of these Ohioans, senior LB Chris Borland, was not recruited by Ohio State.

This game, as so many other notable Ohio State/Wisconsin games over the past decade, will be decided by which team is able to control the line of scrimmage.  If Ohio State is pushed around by Wisconsin, as they were up in Madison in 2010, it could be a long night for the Buckeyes.  Ohio State’s rebuilt defensive line, as well as linebackers Joshua Perry, Ryan Shazier, and especially Curtis Grant, need to shut down Wisconsin’s running game.

While I understand Coach Urban Meyer stresses how Braxton Miller is still considered the starter, I am of the mindset that perhaps it may be better for Miller, and the team, if Kenny Guiton starts versus Wisconsin.  Coming off two straight weeks of inactivity, and playing against Wisconsin in a nationally televised game, it would not surprise me if Miller may be too hyped for this game and begins to press.  If that were to happen, would Coach Meyer pull Miller for Guiton?  What would that do to Miller’s confidence, and the team’s confidence in Miller?  No sense in creating a quarterback controversy.

Conversely, if Guiton were to start, and have Miller come into the game after a series or two, it may provide an opportunity to ease Miller back into the starting lineup.  Miller may even be able to provide a spark to the offense, as he is much more dangerous with his legs than Guiton.

I will be anxious to see how the Ohio State coaching staff uses its strong arsenal of running backs versus Wisconsin.  Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith, as well as true freshmen Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott.  It could be the debut of Hyde in the backfield, with Hall playing the pivot role.

Another match-up I will keep an eye upon is Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis versus Ohio State defensive back Bradley Roby.  I have no idea if the Ohio State coaching staff will isolate Roby on Abbrederis, but I would be surprised if they did not, as Abbrederis is Wisconsin’s top receiving threat.

Wisconsin TE Jacob Pedersen also poses a problem in coverage.  The linebackers will need to come up big here coverage-wise, especially on play action passes by Wisconsin.

This will be my fourth straight Ohio State/Wisconsin game in Ohio Stadium.  My good friend Sean and I attended in 2007, when Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 38-17.  My Dad died in the summer of 2010, and we enjoyed watching Ohio State defeat Wisconsin in 2009, 31-13.  And my brother-in-law Kevin and I were sitting up in C Deck along the 40 yard line as Braxton Miller threw this pass to defeat Wisconsin, 33-29, in 2011.

With Ohio Stadium rocking, all of Ohio State’s top 2014 recruiting targets in the house, and a national television audience, I feel comfortable putting my winning streak on the line in this one.  I am predicting Ohio State 35, Wisconsin 24, with a late Ohio State touchdown sealing the deal.





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